The official visitation policy from every state’s Department of Corrections and the federal Bureau of Prisons will likely tell you that regularly visiting your inmate is an important part of the rehabilitation process.
However, when a prison allows visitors to come into the facility and have direct contact with the inmates, it presents a huge security risk. Visiting rooms are one of the most popular places in the prison for passing contraband, like illegal drugs, prescription medication, tobacco, and cell phones.
Because of this, there are strict visiting rules at each facility that address everything from what you wear to where you sit. There are also rules about touching an inmate, what you are allowed to bring with you, and how many people can visit.
Despite the restrictions, getting visits from family and friends was absolutely the highlight of my prison experience. Looking forward to those days where I got to spend a few hours with my loved ones was a source of hope and happiness, and the actual experience of the visit was the best.
Not only did I get to see my family in person and give them a hug, but I also got to enjoy snacks and beverages that I didn’t normally have access to. The hours spent in the visiting room were a great way to change up my daily schedule and do something different.
Visits are important, but they are not a right. Instead, they are a privilege, and they can be the first thing taken away from an inmate when he or she breaks the rules. So, that leads us to today’s topic: why would an inmate lose visitation?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- How can one inmate lose their visitation privileges?
- What happens when a prison goes on lockdown?
How can one inmate lose their visitation privileges?
When an inmate loses their visitation privileges, they have broken a rule. There is no set standard for why an inmate would lose visitation, as it varies from prison to prison. But, most commonly, an inmate would lose their visitation privileges when they break one or more of the visit rules.
Inmates and visitors share a responsibility for proper conduct during the visiting process. Some actions by an inmate during a visit which may result in them losing their visiting privileges either temporarily or permanently are:
- Improper inmate conduct during the visiting process (inappropriate touching, yelling, etc…)
- Disruptive behavior
- Introduction of contraband into the facility
- Violation of any posted visiting rules and regulations or failure to follow staff instructions
- Leaving the visiting area and proceeding into an unauthorized area
- Doing anything that jeopardizes the safety and good order of the facility
- Physical contact with a minor by an inmate on “No Contact” status with minors
Inmates can also lose their visiting privileges for their conduct inside the prison. When you get into a fight, have dirty urine in a drug test, or have issues with an officer or a prison staff member, they can take away your visiting privileges.
As a rule, they will take away your phone privileges before they go as far as taking away visits, but that doesn’t always happen. How an inmate is punished really depends on the severity of their improper behavior or how often it happens.
What happens when a prison goes on lockdown?
There are instances when the entire prison can lose visiting privileges, and that is when the facility goes on lockdown. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including a scheduled execution, a riot, or a disease (like the flu) is rapidly spreading among the inmates.
When a prison goes on lockdown, the administration and guards require inmates to stay in their cells 24 hours per day. That means no programming of any kind (school, jobs, classes), no recreational activities, no phone calls, no visits, and no mail call.
Lockdown can also result in food being delivered to the cells instead of inmates going to chow hall as a group because no inmate movement is allowed.
Some prisons cancel visitation completely – but don’t go on lockdown – if there are persistent problems in the visiting rooms with contraband, violence, or inappropriate behavior. However, in my experience, they try not to punish everyone for something just one or two inmates do. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Do you think inmates should be allowed unlimited visits? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: When Prisons Cut Off Visits Indefinitely https://www.themarshallproject.org/2019/04/09/when-prisons-cut-off-visits-indefinitely